Call for beefed-up trade minister to boost UK exports ...

Call for beefed-up trade minister to boost UK exports welcomed by Unite

08 April 2015

A beefed-up role for a trade minister with a seat in the cabinet to coordinate and boost UK exports – a central plank of a new report on delivering an export-led recovery – has been welcomed by Unite, the country’s largest union.

Unite echoes the call for a revolution in export culture to boost manufacturing outlined in today’s (Wednesday 8 April) Cole Commission interim report – Turning the dial on UK Exports - chaired by Agusta Westland CEO, Graham Cole.

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Tony Burke said: “We welcome the idea of a minister for trade with a seat in the cabinet, and a unified UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and UK Export Finance (UKEF).

“Basically, we need a trade minister in the cabinet to boost and coordinate the UK’s export efforts. We need a revolution in our export culture, and the UK and its companies have to be in it for the long haul.

“This should be coupled with specialist support for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the supply chain to get into exporting goods through ‘one stop shops’.

“We welcome the commission’s report, as it makes clear that to ensure sustained growth we have to focus on exporting more of our manufactured goods.

“As the report says, we are trading in a different world, and the current system in the UK is too complex and too fragmented.

“The report favours support for the domestic supply chain (re-shoring), as we have in the automotive and aerospace industries, something Unite has argued needs to be extended.

“We also welcome the idea of a mandatory export plan for all public procurements.

“The interim report is timely as it is a reminder that membership of the European Union will help us achieve many of these objectives – unlike the Tories and Ukip who will be fighting like rats in a sack over EU membership, while our chances go by.

“It also reminds us that the UK needs a ‘joined up’ industrial and export strategy – something the Tories have singularly failed to achieve.”

The report - commissioned by Labour’s Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna - sets out a plan for the UK to “re-balance our economy through an export-led recovery”. Unite gave evidence to the Cole Commission, on the need for manufacturing to be at the heart of the economy


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2061 or 07768 693940. 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.